The optics of the growing lungfish eye: Lens shape, focal ratio and pupillary movements inNeoceratodus forsteri(Krefft, 1870) Academic Article uri icon


  • Lungfish (order Dipnoi) evolved during the Devonian period and are believed to be the closest living relatives to the land vertebrates. Here we describe the previously unknown morphology of the lungfish eye in order to examine ocular adaptations present in early sarcopterygian fish. Unlike many teleosts, the Australian lungfishNeoceratodus forsteripossesses a mobile pupil with a slow pupillary response similar to amphibians. The structure of the eye changes from juvenile to adult, with both eye and lens becoming more elliptical in shape with growth. This change in structure results in a decrease in focal ratio (the distance from lens center to the retina divided by the lens radius) and increased retinal illumination in adult fish. Despite a degree of lenticular correction for spherical aberration, there is considerable variation across the lens. A re-calculation of spatial resolving power using measured focal ratios from cryosectioning reveals a low ability to discriminate fine detail. The dipnoan eye shares more features with amphibian eyes than with most teleost eyes, which may echo the visual needs of this living fossil.

publication date

  • May 2007